That said, this is a film which is likely to travel well. The cast members’ subsequent credits include the likes of Joint Security Area, OldBoy and Shiri, which is likely to attract interest, whilst director Kim went on to make A Tale of Two Sisters. Moreover, The Quiet Family possess a fine, mordant wit; it’s not so much a black comedy as bleak comedy. Certainly, anyone expecting something a little more madcap owing to its subject matter may very well come away disappointed. Rather the humour is decidedly deadpan, a situation which serves the film to a better degree. There are no noisy attempts at winning the audience over, simply an acceptance that those with a taste for such comedies – and The Quiet Family is primarily a comedy – will find the film on their own terms.
Yet in being so low key, Kim does have a problem in sustaining momentum. The bodies may pile up soon enough, yet it’s questionable as to whether he has anywhere to go. From the opening scenes we get nods towards the horror genre (ominous crane shots and aural rumbles à la The Evil Dead), yet these are never truly latched onto. Likewise the thriller elements – courtesy of the arrival of a gangland hitman as well as a police officer in the latter stages – are never developed as fully as they could be. As an aside consider Shallow Grave or Les Diaboliques which both gained more mileage from a single corpse – perhaps Kim has simply bitten off more than he can chew?
Indeed, The Quiet Family has a ragged quality which is perhaps unsurprising for a debut feature. It succeeds in the quieter moments (many of the film’s delights come through the petty family antagonisms as opposed to the bigger set pieces) and more than gets by on them, but there is a continual feeling that in order to be more than just a good film it needs something a little extra – most likely a dash of suspense or a greater sense of direction. Certainly, the latter element can be detected during The Quiet Family’s conclusion as rather than build to a finale, it simply peters out.